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USS Liberty veterans await attack inquiry

By Shams Ghoneim

USS Liberty turning while under attack by Israel in international waters . Attacked without warning.

As we recently celebrated Memorial Day honoring all U.S. past and present veterans, we must never forget those officers and men of the USS Liberty.

On June 8, 1967, the unarmed U.S. Navy Intelligence ship USS Liberty dialing at less than 5 knots, was suddenly attacked without warning or prior contact in international waters by the air and naval forces of the state of Israel.

The USS Liberty was surveyed for more than nine hours by Israeli aircraft overflights and radar tracking before the unprovoked attack. It was an American ship, hence neutral during the June 1967 Israeli/ Arab war. It remained in International waters at all times on that fateful day. During the attack, the USS Liberty crew had difficulty contacting Sixth Fleet to request assistance because of intense communication jamming.

Out of 294 officers and men, including three civilians, 34 Americans were killed and 174 were wounded. The ship, a

$40 million state-of-the-art signals intelligence platform, was later declared unsalvageable and sold for scrap.

Survivors reported that Israeli torpedo boat crews swept the decks on the USS Liberty, any crew members above decks, and inflated lifeboats with continuous machine gun fire.

The defenseless crew had only themselves to rely upon and fought heroically to save themselves and their ship. They were later awarded collectively one Medal of Honor, 2 Navy Crosses, 11 Silver Stars, 20 Bronze Stars (With “V” device), nine Navy Commendation medals and four Purple Hearts. The USS Liberty was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

The Israeli investigation later concluded that the attack was an unfortunate accident and no one was ever reprimanded or held accountable. Even though the Johnson administration did not accept that result, it also, without reasonable explanation, never sought justice for the dead and injured Americans or pursed a thorough investigation of the attack.

Near universal consensus continues to be that the attack was made with full knowledge that the USS Liberty was a U.S. Navy ship.

In his capacity as assistant to the president, Clark Clifford Reported to Lyndon Johnson that claiming the USS Liberty was mistaken for the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir was unbelievable. The El Quseir had one-fourth the displacement of the Liberty, was 180 feet shorter and was very differently configured.

Virtually every knowledgeable American official except for Robert McNamara has been quoted on record that the attack was deliberate.

On June 8, 2005, the USS Liberty Veterans Association filed a formal report with the Department of Defense of war crimes committed against U.S. Military Personnel by elements of the Israeli military forces (see www.ussliberty.org/report/report.htm).

The ship’s survivors have been forbidden for more than 40 years to tell their story.

The United States is obligated by law and by international treaty to investigate all such reports by or against U.S. forces. Unfortunately, veterans and their supporters are still waiting for such investigation some 45 years later.

The USS Liberty website, its membership, supporters, and survivors are committed to uncover the truth while abhorring any racist and extreme positions taken by anti-Semites, Holocaust denials or others who seek to use this most tragic incident for their own purposes.

The Cedar Rapids commemoration event for the USS Liberty is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 8 at May’s Island in Cedar Rapids, followed by a dinner at 7 at the Cedar Rapids Muslim Center.

Shams Ghoneim of Iowa City is Coordinator, Muslim Public Affairs Council-Iowa Chapter. Comments:

shamsghoneim@mchsi.com.

 

http://thegazette.com/2012/06/03/uss-liberty-veterans-await-attack-inquiry/

Posted in foreign entanglements, General, Military, Neoconservatism.

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What Did We Learn From Israel’s Sneak Attack on the U.S.S. Liberty?

What Did We Learn From Israel’s Sneak Attack on the U.S.S. Liberty?  (May 28, 2012)

USS Liberty after Israeli sneak attackThe U.S.S. Liberty after the Israeli sneak attack which murdered 34 Americans and wounded 171 others.

Memorial Day is to honor the American military and in particular those members of the military who’ve died or were wounded in battle.

 

By Bob Johnson

 

Editor’s note:  Today, Vice President Biden said that if you attack the United States we will hunt you down.  We are waiting, Mr. Vice President.

There are 33 American military members and one American civilian contractor who died terrifying horrific deaths and 174 Americans who were horribly wounded due to Israel’s sneak attack on the virtually unarmed American intelligence ship the U.S.S. Liberty on June 8, 1967.

These dead and wounded men were deemed useless to the U.S. political whores in Washington. That is why the cowardly war-mongering Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, after ordering American fighter jets that were on their way to save the Americans on the U.S.S. Liberty from their Jewish butchers back to their carriers said, “President [Lyndon] Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.”

The tragic case of the U.S.S. Liberty should teach any American who is in the military or who is thinking about joining the military about who is really running the show and who they really are or will be fighting for. The politicians owe the only thing they care about, their meaningless political careers, to the Israel lobby and the Jewish dominated media. They look at Americans in the U.S. military as pawns they can use to promote their political careers. Not only will the U.S. military be used to advance Israel and its stooges in the White House and Congress with no regard for the welfare of American military personnel, the politicians will NOT use the American military to protect American citizens from Israeli violence.

America has not learned its U.S.S. Liberty lesson. Things have actually gotten much worse. Now, instead of one American ship being

neocon war pig wolfowitz signs autograph for wounded soldierNeocon war-pig Paul Wolfowitz signs an autograph for a naive wounded soldier at a steak dinner in Washington. The Iraq War was fought for Israel’s and U.S. politicians’ benefit.

attacked by the terrorist state of Israel, our entire military is used to fight wars for Israel’s benefit. Case in point is Iraq. The Iraq War was spurred forward by the Jewish neoconservative Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. He was the one who first suggested it to goy-boy George W. Bush. And Wolfowitz had the gall to play wounded American vets for fools by buying them stake dinners in Washington and signing autographs (as shown at right) for the trusting and unsuspecting pawns.

Today we are coming very close to showing that we are still just as unthinking and naive as ever by moving closer to a war that will greatly benefit Israel and harm America and the rest of the world. This time the war will be with Iran. Currently the politicians are going through the same routine as they did in the build up for the unnecessary war for Israel’s benefit with Iraq. They are holding talks with the Iranians over Iran’s nuclear program. Even though it takes uranium enrichment of 90 percent to be usable for a nuclear weapon and Iran hasn’t come anywhere close to that, the media and government are squawking that Iran already has enough enriched uranium to build five nuclear bombs! Add to this the fact that Israel already has a growing nuclear stockpile, submarines to deliver them virtually from anywhere on the globe and also has biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and no U.S. politician or any politician in Europe, Canada or Australia is calling for open inspections of Israeli REAL AND EXISTING WMD and it becomes painfully crystal clear that we have learned absolutely nothing from the Israeli sneak attack on the U.S.S. Liberty. We have not learned that Israel’s inhumane brutality and raw aggression exhibited on the men of the U.S.S. Liberty instructs thinking minds that Israel should NEVER be allowed to have WMD of any kind. If America had learned its lesson from the martyrs of the U.S.S. Liberty we would not only immediately cut all aid and support for the Jewish state, we would go in an disarm it.

Below is a list of the dead from the Israeli sneak attack on the U.S.S. Liberty on June 8, 1967. We owe it to each and everyone of them to learn from this avoidable mistake.

LCDR Philip McCutcheon Armstrong, Jr. Navy Cross
LT James Cecil Pierce
LT Stephen Spencer Toth, Silver Star
CT3 William Bernard Allenbaugh
SN Gary Ray Blanchard
CT2 Allen Merle Blue
QM3 Francis Brown
CT2 Ronnie Jordan Campbell
CT2 Jerry Leroy Converse
CT2 Robert Burton Eisenberg
CT2 Jerry Lee Gross
CT1 Curtis Alan Graves
CTSN Lawrence Pasul Hayden
CT1 Warren Edward Hersey
CT3 Alan (NMN) Higgins
SN Carl Lewis Hoar
CT2 Richard Walter Keene, Jr.
CTSN James Lee Lenau
CTC Raymond Eugene Linn
CT1 James Mahlon Lupton
CT3 Duane Rowe Marggraf
CTSN David Walter Marlborough
CT2 Anthony Peter Mendle
CTSN Carl Christian Nygren
SGT Jack Lewis Raper, USMC
CPL Edward Emory Rehmeyer, III, USMC
IFCN David (NMN) Skolak
CT1 John Caleb Smith, Jr.
CTC Melvin Douglas Smith
PC2 John Clarence Spicher
GMG3 Alexander Neil Thompson, Jr.
CT3 Thomas Ray Thornton
CT3 Philippe Charles Tiedke
CT1 Frederick James Walton

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/05/26/what-did-we-learn-from-israels-sneak-attack-on-the-u-s-s-liberty/

Posted in Constitutional, foreign entanglements, General, Intervention, Neoconservatism.


“LBJ and Israel”, The Israeli press version of an American President selling out the United States, it’s people and laws for Israel First above all else.

What has changed from 1967 to today?…Israel is all costs, no benefits, untrustworthy, duplicitious, disloyal, exhorbantily costly and a lousy ally. -jd

LBJ and Israel

By: Jason Maoz
Published: August 27th, 2008
 

Lyndon Baines Johnson, born 100 years ago this week, came from a part of the country where Jews were about as common as a herd of cattle in Manhattan.

But in 1939, while still a young and relatively powerless congressman, Johnson was moved enough by reports of Jewish suffering in Europe to begin raising money and pulling whatever strings were necessary – not all of them legal – to save as many Jews as he could from the Nazis. Over the next few years, hundreds of Jews were issued counterfeit passports and visas and brought to Johnson’s home state of Texas, where they began new lives in the safety and security of America.

Two decades later, in December 1963, shortly after he became president, Johnson was in Austin to dedicate a new synagogue. Many of the Jews he saved during the war were on hand, and time had not dimmed their gratitude. Dry eyes were scarce that day, and Mrs. Johnson proudly recorded in her diary that “Person after person plucked at my sleeve and said, ‘I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him. He helped me get out.’”

Johnson’s affinity for Jews stemmed from early familial influences – his paternal grandfather and a number of other relatives were members of the Christadelphian movement, a group of fundamentalist Christians who believed the Jews would one day return to Palestine and create a new Jewish state. His grandfather would admonish young Lyndon to “Take care of the Jews. Consider them your friends and help them any way you can.”

To a Jewish group in 1968, Johnson said: “Most if not all of you have very deep ties with the land and the people of Israel, as I do. The Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls.”

Johnson’s rise to prominence in Washington – he went on from the House to the Senate where in 1955 he became the youngest majority leader in history – coincided with Israel’s birth and early years. Johnson was one of Israel’s strongest backers in Congress, never more so than during the Suez crisis and its aftermath in late 1956 and early 1957, when President Eisenhower distanced himself from Israel and demanded that it immediately return the just-captured Sinai to Egypt.

Though the prevailing mood in Washington favored a bipartisan foreign policy – as a popular adage had it, “politics stops at the water’s edge” – Johnson fought the administration from day one of the crisis, and soon others in Congress, Republicans as well as Democrats, followed his lead. Ultimately, Eisenhower prevailed and Israel withdrew from the Sinai. There soon followed, however, a distinct softening in the administration’s public demeanor toward Israel – a change many believe attributable, at least in part, to Eisenhower’s desire to avoid another bruising battle with Johnson over Middle East policy.

Jews active on behalf of Israel in those years, particularly the Washington-based lobbyists, valued Johnson’s outspokenness and consistency. Si Kennen, director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) during that period, echoed the sentiments of his colleagues when he offered this succinct evaluation of Johnson: “Front-rank, pro-Israel.”

* * * * *

The Kennedy-Johnson Democratic presidential ticket of 1960 was purely a marriage of convenience. Merely disliked by President Kennedy, Johnson was despised by the president’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Convinced of their cultural superiority, the Ivy League types in the Kennedy inner circle laughed at everything from Johnson’s Texas accent to the schools he’d attended to his wheeler-dealer persona – and thought it just terribly gauche and lowbrow that his wife, born Claudia Alta Taylor, was known to one and all as Lady Bird.

Behind the condescension, however, was a very real sense of insecurity. The Kennedy brothers feared Johnson for his political acumen and his intimate relationship with Washington’s movers and shakers, particularly FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who knew all the secrets and scandals that lurked beneath the capital’s pristine fa?ade, including the very dark side of John Kennedy that would remain hidden from the public for years after Kennedy’s death.

In its Middle East policy the Kennedy administration made little effort to change the evenhanded approach pursued by its predecessors. As part of an all-out effort to win the affections of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kennedy pushed hard for large increases in aid to Egypt and, in early 1962, following an Israeli retaliatory strike in Syria, instructed his UN ambassador to vote to condemn Israel in the Security Council.

Kennedy also constantly prodded Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on the issue of Arab refugees – Secretary of State Dean Rusk wanted Israel to agree to take back at least 10 percent of the total number of Arabs who had left Israel since 1948 – and even more so on Israel’s nuclear ambitions.

The true scope of Israel’s nuclear program was far greater than Ben-Gurion was prepared to let on, and the Israeli government had its hands full as it tried to allay the Kennedy administration’s growing unease. When, after much wrangling and delay, the White House finally agreed to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Israel – the first arms deal between the two countries – one of the conditions the U.S. insisted on was that it be allowed to conduct a close inspection of Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona.

The Israeli government finally acquiesced, but inspection of the actual plant was avoided by an elaborate – and costly – sleight of hand. As Israeli journalists Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman describe it, “False walls were erected, doorways and elevators hidden, and dummy installations were built to show the Americans, who found no evidence of the weapons program secreted underground.”

* * * * *

Once the trauma of Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 began to wear off and Johnson settled in as president, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel quickly soared to new heights. In The Bomb in the Basement, his history of Israel’s procurement of nuclear weapons, Israeli author Michael Karpin writes that “as soon as [Johnson] entered the White House the pressure on Israel on the Dimona issue ceased.”

And while Kennedy’s final budget, for fiscal year 1964, allocated $40 million in aid to Israel, Johnson’s first budget, for fiscal year 1965, set aside $71 million – an extraordinary increase of 75 percent. The amount nearly doubled in 1966, to $130 million.

Beyond the numbers, the precise nature and terms of the aid signaled a dramatic break with past American policy. Development loans and surplus food had constituted the extent of U.S. aid under Eisenhower and Kennedy, and the anti-aircraft missiles sold to Israel by the Kennedy administration required a cash payment. Johnson changed all that: Not only did he become the first American president to sell offensive weapons to Israel (the missiles from Kennedy were defensive), but from now on the Israelis would be permitted to buy American arms with American aid money, which meant no funds would have to leave Israel’s hard-pressed government coffers.

As a result of the new arrangement, the percentage of American aid to Israel earmarked for military expenditures rose dramatically, more than tripling between 1965 and 1967. By the middle of 1966, the Israelis were purchasing military hardware the type of which would have been unthinkable under prior administrations, including four-dozen Skyhawk bomber attack planes and more than 200 M-48 tanks (despite the objection of Pentagon officials, who told Johnson they’d prefer Israel buy its tanks from the British or the Germans).

Meanwhile, responding to a large increase of Russian military aid to the radical regimes in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, the Johnson administration armed what at the time were regarded as the more conservative, anti-Soviet Arab states in the region: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco and Libya. Ironically, supplying arms to some Arab nations made it that much easier for Johnson to deal with those in the foreign policy and defense bureaucracies who objected to selling sophisticated weaponry to Israel. He would point out to them that he was simply maintaining the Arab-Israeli balance of power.

* * * * *

In mid-May 1967, as Israel marked its 19th anniversary, Nasser in quick succession massed the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula; demanded removal of the United Nations Emergency Force that since 1957 had kept the peace on the Egyptian-Israeli border; and blockaded the Straits of Tiran to ships bound to and from the Israeli port of Eilat.

The latter constituted a technical act of war and capped a period of increasing tension in the region as Johnson ordered the Sixth Fleet to the eastern Mediterranean. There followed two weeks of frenzied diplomatic maneuvering, with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban hopscotching across Europe and the United States in an effort to diffuse the situation by diplomatic means.

Elected president in his own right by a historic margin in 1964, Johnson had seen his popularity and stature steadily diminish in the wake of his overreaching Great Society domestic programs and the widespread sense that America was mired in a no-win war in Vietnam. Now Johnson had to turn his attention from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and try to prevent a crisis from becoming a war.

The administration took pains to appear neutral. Johnson repeatedly warned the Israelis against striking first, but was unable to come up with a successful alternative strategy. Meanwhile, Israel had mobilized its reserves and each passing day took another devastating bite out of the country’s already precarious economy. The Arab world, for its part, was caught up in war fever as Jordan’s King Hussein, following the example set by Syria six months earlier, signed a mutual defense pact with Nasser

“Johnson,” said Ephraim Evron, the influential minister at the Israeli embassy in Washington, “tried to organize an international naval force [to break the blockade], but it didn’t work. He also sent letters and envoys to Cairo to persuade President Nasser to reduce the tension by returning to the status quo ante, but in vain. We knew that, in the end, we would have to shatter the blockade ourselves.”

What Johnson knew, thanks to highly classified CIA and armed-forces intelligence reports, was that U.S. defense experts were predicting a swift Israeli victory in the event of war. General Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would later recall: “I told [Johnson] that our best estimate was that if there was a war, that the Israelis would win it in five to seven days. He asked me to go back and check this out and talk to him again. I did, and I came back and told him exactly the same thing – that there’s just no question; that the way the two sides lined up in the air and on the ground, the Israelis would win.”

This was an assessment shared by Israel’s own military leaders, who pushed hard for Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, a cautious man by nature, to give the word for a pre-emptive strike. That word finally came on Sunday, June 4, and the Israeli air force went on the attack early the next morning, destroying nearly all of Egypt’s serviceable military aircraft as they sat on their runways. Subsequent bombing runs against Jordanian and Syrian air bases sealed Israel’s victory even as fierce ground combat commenced on three fronts.

One incident that marred Israel’s victory and threatened the country’s relationship with the U.S. was the deadly attack by Israeli forces on the USS Liberty, an American electronic surveillance ship operating off the Sinai coast. During the assault, which Israel afterward called a terrible mistake, the Liberty was torpedoed and strafed for more than an hour. The final casualty count totaled 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded.

Just how livid the Americans were can be gauged by the reaction of Johnson adviser Clark Clifford, for decades as staunch an advocate of Israel as they came in Washington (and the man chiefly responsible for keeping Harry Truman on a pro-Zionist course in 1947 and ’48). Clifford thought “it was inconceivable that [the attack] was an accident” and urged the president to respond to the incident “as if the Arabs or the Russians had done it.”

Despite his own doubts about the Israeli version of events, Johnson downplayed the tragedy even as Clifford and several other top aides urged him to at least insist the Israeli government punish those responsible. Israel made a formal apology and paid several million dollars in compensation to the families of the dead Americans, but the U.S.-Israel relationship suffered no significant damage.

After the war, Johnson resisted international calls to pressure Israel into relinquishing the vast swaths of territory it had just captured.

* * * * *

If there was one thing that threatened Johnson’s amicable relationship with American Jews – and, by extension, Israel – it was the vocal opposition of Jewish liberals to the war in Vietnam. Johnson felt Jews, of all people, should have understood that South Vietnam, like Israel, was a small nation in constant peril. He complained that Jews “want me to protect Israel, but they don’t want me to do anything in Vietnam.”

At one point during an otherwise friendly discussion with Abba Eban toward the end of his presidency, Johnson remarked, with considerable bitterness, “A bunch of rabbis came here one day in 1967 to tell me that I ought not to send a single screwdriver to Vietnam – but on the other hand should push all our aircraft carriers through the Straits of Tiran to help Israel.”

It was, of course, Vietnam and its poisonous effects on American society that would lead Johnson to forgo seeking a second full term of office. He left the White House in January 1969 a broken man, vilified as perhaps no president in American history up to that time. He died four years later, not yet 65 but looking like a man two decades older.

Whatever else can be said of Lyndon Johnson, he proved to be a true friend of the Jews and Israel. He proved it as a young lawmaker when, with limited clout and resources, he did everything he could to get as many Jews as possible out of Europe; he proved it as one of Israel’s strongest and most important backers in Congress during the Jewish state’s early years; and he proved it as president by granting Israel then-unprecedented levels of financial and military aid and by refusing, in marked contrast to Eisenhower’s actions after the Suez crisis of 1956, to force unilateral concessions on Israel following the Six-Day War.

http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/lbj-and-israel/2008/08/27/

Posted in foreign entanglements, General, Neoconservatism.

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Iran: real threat or just hype?

NEW YORK POST OP-ED

Iran: real threat or just hype?

April 20,2012 

Iran hasn’t invaded another country in over 200 years. So why change?

Iran isn’t a threat to us, and neither was Iraq. Yet how many American kids died or got maimed in that war?

The people who lead us into these unnecessary wars are not the ones on the firing line.

We made Israel a nation in 1948. How many friends has it made since then? And how many enemies?

Who coined the phrase “preemptive strike”?

When people call Israel our staunchest ally in the Middle East, they defile the graves of the US seamen who died on USS Liberty.

As a veteran, I get sick when their deaths have no meaning.

Ron Paul is the only honest man telling the truth about the Middle East, yet our media ignore him.

Iran knows that any country that has the bomb will not be obliterated.

Meanwhile, Israel is blowing smoke, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants our kids to die for his country.

Henry Mitchel

Staten Island

Read more: LINK

Posted in Constitutional, foreign entanglements, General, Intervention, Military, Neoconservatism.

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China’s Rise, America’s Fall

China’s Rise, America’s Fall

Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?

By Ron Unz | April 18, 2012  LINK

[1]The rise of China surely ranks among the most important world developments of the last 100 years. With America still trapped in its fifth year of economic hardship, and the Chinese economy poised to surpass our own before the end of this decade, China looms very large on the horizon. We are living in the early years of what journalists once dubbed “The Pacific Century,” yet there are worrisome signs it may instead become known as “The Chinese Century.”

But does the Chinese giant have feet of clay? In a recently published book, Why Nations Fail, economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson characterize China’s ruling elites as “extractive”—parasitic and corrupt—and predict that Chinese economic growth will soon falter and decline, while America’s “inclusive” governing institutions have taken us from strength to strength. They argue that a country governed as a one-party state, without the free media or checks and balances of our own democratic system, cannot long prosper in the modern world. The glowing tributes this book has received from a vast array of America’s most prominent public intellectuals, including six Nobel laureates in economics, testifies to the widespread popularity of this optimistic message.

Yet do the facts about China and America really warrant this conclusion?

 

China Shakes the World

By the late 1970s, three decades of Communist central planning had managed to increase China’s production at a respectable rate, but with tremendous fits and starts, and often at a terrible cost: 35 million or more Chinese had starved to death during the disastrous 1959–1961 famine caused by Mao’s forced industrialization policy of the Great Leap Forward.

China’s population had also grown very rapidly during this period, so the typical standard of living had improved only slightly, perhaps 2 percent per year between 1958 and 1978, and this from an extremely low base. Adjusted for purchasing power, most Chinese in 1980 had an income 60–70 percent below that of the citizens in other major Third World countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Kenya, none of which were considered great economic success stories. In those days, even Haitians were far wealthier than Chinese.

All this began to change very rapidly once Deng Xiaoping initiated his free-market reforms in 1978, first throughout the countryside and eventually in the smaller industrial enterprises of the coastal provinces. By 1985, The Economist ran a cover story praising China’s 700,000,000 peasants for having doubled their agricultural production in just seven years, an achievement almost unprecedented in world history. Meanwhile, China’s newly adopted one-child policy, despite its considerable unpopularity, had sharply reduced population growth rates in a country possessing relatively little arable land.

A combination of slowing population growth and rapidly accelerating economic output has obvious implications for national prosperity. During the three decades to 2010, China achieved perhaps the most rapid sustained rate of economic development in the history of the human species, with its real economy growing almost 40-fold between 1978 and 2010. In 1978, America’s economy was 15 times larger, but according to most international estimates, China is now set to surpass America’s total economic output within just another few years.

Furthermore, the vast majority of China’s newly created economic wealth has flowed to ordinary Chinese workers, who have moved from oxen and bicycles to the verge of automobiles in just a single generation. While median American incomes have been stagnant for almost forty years, those in China have nearly doubled every decade, with the real wages of workers outside the farm-sector rising about 150 percent over the last ten years alone. The Chinese of 1980 were desperately poor compared to Pakistanis, Nigerians, or Kenyans; but today, they are several times wealthier, representing more than a tenfold shift in relative income.

A World Bank report recently highlighted the huge drop in global poverty rates from 1980 to 2008, but critics noted that over 100 percent of that decline came from China alone: the number of Chinese living in dire poverty fell by a remarkable 662 million, while the impoverished population in the rest of the world actually rose by 13 million. And although India is often paired with China in the Western media, a large fraction of Indians have actually grown poorer over time. The bottom half of India’s still rapidly growing population has seen its daily caloric intake steadily decline for the last 30 years, with half of all children under five now being malnourished.

China’s economic progress is especially impressive when matched against historical parallels. Between 1870 and 1900, America enjoyed unprecedented industrial expansion, such that even Karl Marx and his followers began to doubt that a Communist revolution would be necessary or even possible in a country whose people were achieving such widely shared prosperity through capitalistic expansion. During those 30 years America’s real per capita income grew by 100 percent. But over the last 30 years, real per capita income in China has grown by more than 1,300 percent.

Over the last decade alone, China quadrupled its industrial output, which is now comparable to that of the U.S. In the crucial sector of automobiles, China raised its production ninefold, from 2 million cars in 2000 to 18 million in 2010, a figure now greater than the combined totals for America and Japan. China accounted for fully 85 percent of the total world increase in auto manufacturing during that decade.

It is true that many of China’s highest-tech exports are more apparent than real. Nearly all Apple’s iPhones and iPads come from China, but this is largely due to the use of cheap Chinese labor for final assembly, with just 4 percent of the value added in those world-leading items being Chinese. This distorts Chinese trade statistics, leading to unnecessary friction. However, some high-tech China exports are indeed fully Chinese, notably those of Huawei, which now ranks alongside Sweden’s Ericsson as one of the world’s two leading telecommunications manufacturers, while once powerful North American competitors such Lucent-Alcatel and Nortel have fallen into steep decline or even bankruptcy. And although America originally pioneered the Human Genome Project, the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) today probably stands as the world leader in that enormously important emerging scientific field.

China’s recent rise should hardly surprise us. For most of the last 3,000 years, China together with the Mediterranean world and its adjoining European peninsula have constituted the two greatest world centers of technological and economic progress. During the 13th century, Marco Polo traveled from his native Venice to the Chinese Empire and described the latter as vastly wealthier and more advanced than any European country. As late as the 18th century, many leading European philosophers such as Voltaire often looked to Chinese society as an intellectual exemplar, while both the British and the Prussians used the Chinese mandarinate as their model for establishing a meritocratic civil service based on competitive examinations.

Even a century ago, near the nadir of China’s later weakness and decay, some of America’s foremost public intellectuals, such as Edward A. Ross and Lothrop Stoddard, boldly predicted the forthcoming restoration of the Chinese nation to global influence, the former with equanimity and the latter with serious concern. Indeed, Stoddard argued that only three major inventions effectively separated the world of classical antiquity from that of 18th-century Europe—gunpowder, the mariner’s compass, and the printing press. All three seem to have first appeared in China, though for various social, political, and ideological reasons, none were properly implemented.

Does China’s rise necessarily imply America’s decline? Not at all: human economic progress is not a zero-sum game. Under the right circumstances, the rapid development of one large country should tend to improve living standards for the rest of the world.

This is most obvious for those nations whose economic strengths directly complement those of a growing China. Massive industrial expansion clearly requires a similar increase in raw-material consumption, and China is now the world’s largest producer and user of electricity, concrete, steel, and many other basic materials, with its iron-ore imports surging by a factor of ten between 2000 and 2011. This has driven huge increases in the costs of most commodities; for example, copper’s world price rose more than eightfold during the last decade. As a direct consequence, these years have generally been very good ones for the economies of countries that heavily rely upon the export of natural resources—Australia, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and parts of Africa.

Meanwhile, as China’s growth gradually doubles total world industrial production, the resulting “China price” reduces the cost of manufactured goods, making them much more easily affordable to everyone, and thereby greatly increases the global standard of living. While this process may negatively impact those particular industries and countries directly competing with China, it provides enormous opportunities as well, not merely to the aforementioned raw-material suppliers but also to countries like Germany, whose advanced equipment and machine tools have found a huge Chinese market, thereby helping to reduce German unemployment to the lowest level in 20 years.

And as ordinary Chinese grow wealthier, they provide a larger market as well for the goods and services of leading Western companies, ranging from fast-food chains to consumer products to luxury goods. Chinese workers not only assemble Apple’s iPhones and iPads, but are also very eager to purchase them, and China has now become that company’s second largest market, with nearly all of the extravagant profit margins flowing back to its American owners and employees. In 2011 General Motors sold more cars in China than in the U.S., and that rapidly growing market became a crucial factor in the survival of an iconic American corporation. China has become the third largest market in the world for McDonald’s, and the main driver of global profits for the American parent company of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC.

 

Social Costs of a Rapid Rise

Transforming a country in little more than a single generation from a land of nearly a billion peasants to one of nearly a billion city-dwellers is no easy task, and such a breakneck pace of industrial and economic development inevitably leads to substantial social costs. Chinese urban pollution is among the worst in the world, and traffic is rapidly heading toward that same point. China now contains the second largest number of billionaires after America, together with more than a million dollar-millionaires, and although many of these individuals came by their fortunes honestly, many others did not. Official corruption is a leading source of popular resentment against the various levels of Chinese government, ranging from local village councils to the highest officials in Beijing.

But we must maintain a proper sense of proportion. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles when it still had the most notorious smog in America, I recognize that such trends can be reversed with time and money, and indeed the Chinese government has expressed intense interest in the emerging technology of non-polluting electric cars. Rapidly growing national wealth can be deployed to solve many problems.

Similarly, plutocrats who grow rich through friends in high places or even outright corruption are easier to tolerate when a rising tide is rapidly lifting all boats. Ordinary Chinese workers have increased their real income by well over 1,000 percent in recent decades, while the corresponding figure for most American workers has been close to zero. If typical American wages were doubling every decade, there would be far less anger in our own society directed against the “One Percent.” Indeed, under the standard GINI index used to measure wealth inequality, China’s score is not particularly high, being roughly the same as that of the United States, though certainly indicating greater inequality than most of the social democracies of Western Europe.

Many American pundits and politicians still focus their attention on the tragic Tiananmen Square incident of 1989, during which hundreds of determined Chinese protesters were massacred by government troops. But although that event loomed very large at the time, in hindsight it generated merely a blip in the upward trajectory of China’s development and today seems virtually forgotten among ordinary Chinese, whose real incomes have increased several-fold in the quarter century since then.

Much of the Tiananmen protest had been driven by popular outrage at government corruption, and certainly there have been additional major scandals in recent years, often heavily splashed across the pages of America’s leading newspapers. But a closer examination paints a more nuanced picture, especially when contrasted with America’s own situation.

For example, over the last few years one of the most ambitious Chinese projects has been a plan to create the world’s largest and most advanced network of high-speed rail transport, an effort that absorbed a remarkable $200 billion of government investment. The result was the construction of over 6,000 miles of track, a total probably now greater than that of all the world’s other nations combined. Unfortunately, this project also involved considerable corruption, as was widely reported in the world media, which estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars had been misappropriated through bribery and graft. This scandal eventually led to the arrest or removal of numerous government officials, notably including China’s powerful Railways Minister.

Obviously such serious corruption would seem horrifying in a country with the pristine standards of a Sweden or a Norway. But based on the published accounts, it appears that the funds diverted amounted to perhaps as little as 0.2 percent of the total, with the remaining 99.8 percent generally spent as intended. So serious corruption notwithstanding, the project succeeded and China does indeed now possess the world’s largest and most advanced network of high-speed rail, constructed almost entirely in the last five or six years.

Meanwhile, America has no high-speed rail whatsoever, despite decades of debate and vast amounts of time and money spent on lobbying, hearings, political campaigns, planning efforts, and environmental-impact reports. China’s high-speed rail system may be far from perfect, but it actually exists, while America’s does not. Annual Chinese ridership now totals over 25 million trips per year, and although an occasional disaster—such as the 2011 crash in Weizhou, which killed 40 passengers—is tragic, it is hardly unexpected. After all, America’s aging low-speed trains are not exempt from similar calamities, as we saw in the 2008 Chatsworth crash that killed 25 in California.

For many years Western journalists regularly reported that the dismantling of China’s old Maoist system of government-guaranteed healthcare had led to serious social stresses, forcing ordinary workers to save an unreasonable fraction of their salaries to pay for medical treatment if they or their families became ill. But over the last couple of years, the government has taken major steps to reduce this problem by establishing a national healthcare insurance system whose coverage now extends to 95 percent or so of the total population, a far better ratio than is found in wealthy America and at a tiny fraction of the cost. Once again, competent leaders with access to growing national wealth can effectively solve these sorts of major social problems.

Although Chinese cities have negligible crime and are almost entirely free of the horrible slums found in many rapidly urbanizing Third World countries, housing for ordinary workers is often quite inadequate. But national concerns over rising unemployment due to the global recession gave the government a perfect opportunity late last year to announce a bold plan to construct over 35 million modern new government apartments, which would then be provided to ordinary workers on a subsidized basis.

All of this follows the pattern of Lee Kwan Yew’s mixed-development model, combining state socialism and free enterprise, which raised Singapore’s people from the desperate, abject poverty of 1945 to a standard of living now considerably higher than that of most Europeans or Americans, including a per capita GDP almost $12,000 above that of the United States. Obviously, implementing such a program for the world’s largest population and on a continental scale is far more challenging than doing so in a tiny city-state with a population of a few million and inherited British colonial institutions, but so far China has done very well in confounding its skeptics.

[2]

America’s Economic Decline

These facts do not provide much evidence for the thesis in Why Nations Fail that China’s leaders constitute a self-serving and venal “extractive” elite. Unfortunately, such indications seem far more apparent when we direct our gaze inward, toward the recent economic and social trajectory of our own country

Against the backdrop of remarkable Chinese progress, America mostly presents a very gloomy picture. Certainly America’s top engineers and entrepreneurs have created many of the world’s most important technologies, sometimes becoming enormously wealthy in the process. But these economic successes are not typical nor have their benefits been widely distributed. Over the last 40 years, a large majority of American workers have seen their real incomes stagnate or decline.

Meanwhile, the rapid concentration of American wealth continues apace: the richest 1 percent of America’s population now holds as much net wealth as the bottom 90–95 percent, and these trend may even be accelerating. A recent study revealed that during our supposed recovery of the last couple of years, 93 percent of the total increase in national income went to the top 1 percent, with an astonishing 37 percent being captured by just the wealthiest 0.01 percent of the population, 15,000 households in a nation of well over 300 million people.

Evidence for the long-term decline in our economic circumstances is most apparent when we consider the situation of younger Americans. The national media endlessly trumpets the tiny number of youthful Facebook millionaires, but the prospects for most of their contemporaries are actually quite grim. According to research from the Pew Center, barely half of 18- to 24-year-old Americans are currently employed, the lowest level since 1948, a time long before most women had joined the labor force. Nearly one-fifth of young men age 25–34 are still living with their parents, while the wealth of all households headed by those younger than 35 is 68 percent lower today than it was in 1984.

The total outstanding amount of non-dischargeable student-loan debt has crossed the trillion-dollar mark, now surpassing the combined total of credit-card and auto-loan debt—and with a quarter of all student-loan payers now delinquent, there are worrisome indicators that much of it will remain a permanent burden, reducing many millions to long-term debt peonage. A huge swath of America’s younger generation seems completely impoverished, and likely to remain so.

International trade statistics, meanwhile, demonstrate that although Apple and Google are doing quite well, our overall economy is not. For many years now our largest goods export has been government IOUs, whose dollar value has sometimes been greater than that of the next ten categories combined. At some point, perhaps sooner than we think, the rest of the world will lose its appetite for this non-functional product, and our currency will collapse, together with our standard of living. Similar Cassandra-like warnings were issued for years about the housing bubble or the profligacy of the Greek government, and were proven false year after year until one day they suddenly became true.

Ironically enough, there is actually one major category in which American expansion still easily tops that of China, both today and for the indefinite future: population growth. The rate of America’s demographic increase passed that of China over 20 years ago and has been greater every year since, sometimes by as much as a factor of two. According to standard projections, China’s population in 2050 will be almost exactly what it was in 2000, with the country having achieved the population stability typical of advanced, prosperous societies. But during that same half-century, the number of America’s inhabitants will have grown by almost 50 percent, a rate totally unprecedented in the developed world and actually greater than that found in numerous Third World countries such as Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Mexico, or Indonesia. A combination of very rapid population growth and doubtful prospects for equally rapid economic growth does not bode well for the likely quality of the 2050 American Dream.

China rises while America falls, but are there major causal connections between these two concurrent trends now reshaping the future of our world? Not that I can see. American politicians and pundits are naturally fearful of taking on the fierce special interest groups that dominate their political universe, so they often seek an external scapegoat to explicate the misery of their constituents, sometimes choosing to focus on China. But this is merely political theater for the ignorant and the gullible.

Various studies have suggested that China’s currency may be substantially undervalued, but even if the frequent demands of Paul Krugman and others were met and the yuan rapidly appreciated another 15 or 20 percent, few industrial jobs would return to American shores, while working-class Americans might pay much more for their basic necessities. And if China opened wide its borders to more American movies or financial services, the multimillionaires of Hollywood and Wall Street might grow even richer, but ordinary Americans would see little benefit. It is always easier for a nation to point an accusing finger at foreigners rather than honestly admit that almost all its terrible problems are essentially self-inflicted.

 

Decay of Constitutional Democracy

The central theme of Why Nations Fail is that political institutions and the behavior of ruling elites largely determine the economic success or failure of countries. If most Americans have experienced virtually no economic gains for decades, perhaps we should cast our gaze at these factors in our own society.

Our elites boast about the greatness of our constitutional democracy, the wondrous human rights we enjoy, the freedom and rule of law that have long made America a light unto the nations of the world and a spiritual draw for oppressed peoples everywhere, including China itself. But are these claims actually correct? They often stack up very strangely when they appear in the opinion pages of our major newspapers, coming just after the news reporting, whose facts tell a very different story.

Just last year, the Obama administration initiated a massive months-long bombing campaign against the duly recognized government of Libya on “humanitarian” grounds, then argued with a straight face that a military effort comprising hundreds of bombing sorties and over a billion dollars in combat costs did not actually constitute “warfare,” and hence was completely exempt from the established provisions of the Congressional War Powers Act. A few months later, Congress overwhelmingly passed and President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, granting the president power to permanently imprison without trial or charges any American whom he classifies as a national-security threat based on his own judgment and secret evidence. When we consider that American society has experienced virtually no domestic terrorism during the past decade, we must wonder how long our remaining constitutional liberties would survive if we were facing frequent real-life attacks by an actual terrorist underground, such as had been the case for many years with the IRA in Britain, ETA in Spain, or the Red Brigades in Italy.

Most recently, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have claimed the inherent right of an American president to summarily execute anyone anywhere in the world, American citizen or not, whom White House advisors have privately decided was a “bad person.” While it is certainly true that major world governments have occasionally assassinated their political enemies abroad, I have never before heard these dark deeds publicly proclaimed as legitimate and aboveboard. Certainly if the governments of Russia or China, let alone Iran, declared their inherent right to kill anyone anywhere in the world whom they didn’t like, our media pundits would immediately blast these statements as proof of their total criminal insanity.

These are very strange notions of the “rule of law” for the administration of a president who had once served as top editor of the Harvard Law Review and who was routinely flattered in his political campaigns by being described as a “constitutional scholar.”

Many of these negative ideological trends have been absorbed and accepted by the popular culture and much of the American public. Over the last decade one of the highest-rated shows on American television was “24”, created by Joel Surnow and chronicling Kiefer Sutherland as a patriotic but ruthless Secret Service agent, with each episode constituting a single hour of his desperate efforts to thwart terrorist plots and safeguard our national security. Numerous episodes featured our hero torturing suspected evildoers in order to extract the information necessary to save innocent lives, with the entire series representing a popular weekly glorification of graphic government torture on behalf of the greater good.

Now soft-headed protestations to the contrary, most governments around the world have at least occasionally practiced torture, especially when combating popular insurgencies, and some of the more brutal regimes, including Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, even professionalized the process. But such dark deeds done in secret were always vigorously denied in public, and the popular films and other media of Stalin’s Soviet Union invariably featured pure-hearted workers and peasants bravely doing their honorable and patriotic duty for the Motherland, rather than the terrible torments being daily inflicted in the cellars of the Lubyanka prison. Throughout all of modern history, I am not aware of a single even semi-civilized country that publicly celebrated the activities of its professional government torturers in the popular media. Certainly such sentiments would have been totally abhorrent and unthinkable in the “conservative Hollywood” of the Cold War 1950s.

And since we live in a entertainment-dominated society, sentiments affirmed on the screen often have direct real-world consequences. At one point, senior American military and counter-terrorism officials felt the need to travel to Hollywood and urge its screenwriters to stop glorifying American torture, since their shows were encouraging U.S. soldiers to torture Muslim captives even when their commanding officers repeatedly ordered them not to do so.

Given these facts, we should hardly be surprised that international surveys over the past decade have regularly ranked America as the world’s most hated major nation, a remarkable achievement given the dominant global role of American media and entertainment and also the enormous international sympathy that initially flowed to our country following the 9/11 attacks.

 

An Emerging One-Party State

So far at least, these extra-constitutional and often brutal methods have not been directed toward controlling America’s own political system; we remain a democracy rather than a dictatorship. But does our current system actually possess the central feature of a true democracy, namely a high degree of popular influence over major government policies? Here the evidence seems more ambiguous.

Consider the pattern of the last decade. With two ruinous wars and a financial collapse to his record, George W. Bush was widely regarded as one of the most disastrous presidents in American history, and at times his public approval numbers sank to the lowest levels ever measured. The sweeping victory of his successor, Barack Obama, represented more a repudiation of Bush and his policies than anything else, and leading political activists, left and right alike, characterized Obama as Bush’s absolute antithesis, both in background and in ideology. This sentiment was certainly shared abroad, with Obama being selected for the Nobel Peace Prize just months after entering office, based on the widespread assumption that he was certain to reverse most of the policies of his detested predecessor and restore America to sanity.

Yet almost none of these reversals took place. Instead, the continuity of administration policy has been so complete and so obvious that many critics now routinely speak of the Bush/Obama administration.

The harsh violations of constitutional principles and civil liberties which Bush pioneered following the 9/11 attacks have only further intensified under Obama, the heralded Harvard constitutional scholar and ardent civil libertarian, and this has occurred without the excuse of any major new terrorist attacks. During his Democratic primary campaign, Obama promised that he would move to end Bush’s futile Iraq War immediately upon taking office, but instead large American forces remained in place for years until heavy pressure from the Iraqi government finally forced their removal; meanwhile, America’s occupation army in Afghanistan actually tripled in size. The government bailout of the hated financial manipulators of Wall Street, begun under Bush, continued apace under Obama, with no serious attempts at either government prosecution or drastic reform. Americans are still mostly suffering through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but Wall Street profits and multimillion-dollar bonuses soon returned to record levels.

In particular, the continuity of top officials has been remarkable. As Bush’s second defense secretary, Robert Gates had been responsible for the ongoing management of America’s foreign wars and military occupations since 2006; Obama kept him on, and he continued to play the same role in the new administration. Similarly, Timothy Geithner had been one of Bush’s most senior financial appointments, playing a crucial role in the widely unpopular financial bailout of Wall Street; Obama promoted him to Treasury secretary and authorized continuation of those same policies. Ben Bernanke had been appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve by Bush and was reappointed by Obama. Bush wars and bailouts became Obama wars and bailouts. The American public voted for an anti-Bush, but got Bush’s third term instead.

During the Cold War, Soviet propagandists routinely characterized our democracy as a sham, with the American public merely selecting which of the two intertwined branches of their single political party should alternate in office, while the actual underlying policies remained essentially unchanged, being decided and implemented by the same corrupt ruling class. This accusation may have been mostly false at the time it was made but seems disturbingly accurate today.

When times are hard and government policies are widely unpopular, but voters are only offered a choice between the rival slick marketing campaigns of Coke and Pepsi, cynicism can reach extreme proportions. Over the last year, surveys have shown that the public non-approval of Congress—representing Washington’s political establishment—has ranged as high as 90–95 percent, which is completely unprecedented.

But if our government policies are so broadly unpopular, why are we unable to change them through the sacred power of the vote? The answer is that America’s system of government has increasingly morphed from being a representative democracy to becoming something closer to a mixture of plutocracy and mediacracy, with elections almost entirely determined by money and media, not necessarily in that order. Political leaders are made or broken depending on whether they receive the cash and visibility needed to win office.

National campaigns increasingly seem sordid reality shows for second-rate political celebrities, while our country continues along its path toward multiple looming calamities. Candidates who depart from the script or deviate from the elite D.C. consensus regarding wars or bailouts—notably a principled ideologue such as Ron Paul—are routinely stigmatized in the media as dangerous extremists or even entirely airbrushed out of campaign news coverage, as has been humorously highlighted by comedian Jon Stewart.

We know from the collapsed communist states of Eastern Europe that control over the media may determine public perceptions of reality, but it does not change the underlying reality itself, and reality usually has the last laugh. Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleagues have conservatively estimated the total long-term cost of our disastrous Iraq War at $3 trillion, representing over one-fifth of our entire accumulated national debt, or almost $30,000 per American household. And even now the direct ongoing costs of our Afghanistan War still run $120 billion per year, many times the size of Afghanistan’s total GDP. Meanwhile, during these same years the international price of oil has risen from $25 to $125 per barrel—partly as a consequence of these past military disruptions and growing fears of future ones—thereby imposing gigantic economic costs upon our society.

And we suffer other costs as well. A recent New York Times story described the morale-building visit of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to our forces in Afghanistan and noted that all American troops had been required to surrender their weapons before attending his speech and none were allowed to remain armed in his vicinity. Such a command decision seems almost unprecedented in American history and does not reflect well upon the perceived state of our military morale.

Future historians may eventually regard these two failed wars, fought for entirely irrational reasons, as the proximate cause of America’s financial and political collapse, representing the historical bookend to our World War II victory, which originally established American global dominance.

 

Our Extractive Elites 

When parasitic elites govern a society along “extractive” lines, a central feature is the massive upward flow of extracted wealth, regardless of any contrary laws or regulations. Certainly America has experienced an enormous growth of officially tolerated corruption as our political system has increasingly consolidated into a one-party state controlled by a unified media-plutocracy.

Consider the late 2011 collapse of MF Global, a midsize but highly reputable brokerage firm. Although this debacle was far smaller than the Lehman bankruptcy or the Enron fraud, it effectively illustrates the incestuous activities of America’s overlapping elites. Just a year earlier, Jon Corzine had been installed as CEO, following his terms as Democratic governor and U.S. senator from New Jersey and his previous career as CEO of Goldman Sachs. Perhaps no other American had such a combination of stellar political and financial credentials on his resume. Soon after taking the reins, Corzine decided to boost his company’s profits by betting its entire capital and more against the possibility that any European countries might default on their national debts. When he lost that bet, his multi-billion-dollar firm tumbled into bankruptcy.

At this point, the story moves from a commonplace tale of Wall Street arrogance and greed into something out of the Twilight Zone, or perhaps Monty Python. The major newspapers began reporting that customer funds, eventually said to total $1.6 billion, had mysteriously disappeared during the collapse, and no one could determine what had become of them, a very strange claim in our age of massively computerized financial records. Weeks and eventually months passed, tens of millions of dollars were spent on armies of investigators and forensic accountants, but all those customer funds stayed “missing,” while the elite media covered this bizarre situation in the most gingerly possible fashion. As an example, a front page Wall Street Journal story on February 23, 2012 suggested that after so many months, there seemed little likelihood that the disappeared customer funds might ever reappear, but also emphasized that absolutely no one was being accused of any wrongdoing. Presumably the journalists were suggesting that the $1.6 billion dollars of customer money had simply walked out the door on its own two feet.

Stories like this give the lie to the endless boasts of our politicians and business pundits that America’s financial system is the most transparent and least corrupt in today’s world. Certainly America is not unique in the existence of long-term corporate fraud, as was recently shown in the fall of Japan’s Olympus Corporation following the discovery of more than a billion dollars in long-hidden investment losses. But when we consider the largest corporate collapses of the last decade that were substantially due to fraud, nearly all the names are American: WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing, and Adelphia. And this list leaves out all the American financial institutions destroyed by the financial meltdown—such as Lehman, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia—and the many trillions of dollars in American homeowner equity and top-rated MBS securities which evaporated during that process. Meanwhile, the largest and longest Ponzi Scheme in world history, that of Bernie Madoff, had survived for decades under the very nose of the SEC, despite a long series of detailed warnings and complaints. The second largest such fraud, that of Allen R. Stanford, also bears the label “Made in the USA.”

Some of the sources of Chinese success and American decay are not entirely mysterious. As it happens, the typical professional background of a member of China’s political elite is engineering; they were taught to build things. Meanwhile, a remarkable fraction of America’s political leadership class attended law school, where they were trained to argue effectively and to manipulate. Thus, we should not be greatly surprised that while China’s leaders tend to build, America’s leaders seem to prefer endless manipulation, whether of words, money, or people.

[3]How corrupt is the American society fashioned by our current ruling elites? That question is perhaps more ambiguous than it might seem. According to the standard world rankings produced by Transparency International, the United States is a reasonably clean country, with corruption being considerably higher than in the nations of Northern Europe or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, but much lower than in most of the rest of the world, including China.

But I suspect that this one-dimensional metric fails to capture some of the central anomalies of America’s current social dilemma. Unlike the situation in many Third World countries, American teachers and tax inspectors very rarely solicit bribes, and there is little overlap in personnel between our local police and the criminals whom they pursue. Most ordinary Americans are generally honest. So by these basic measures of day-to-day corruption, America is quite clean, not too different from Germany or Japan.

By contrast, local village authorities in China have a notorious tendency to seize public land and sell it to real estate developers for huge personal profits. This sort of daily misbehavior has produced an annual Chinese total of up to 90,000 so-called “mass incidents”—public strikes, protests, or riots—usually directed against corrupt local officials or businessmen.

However, although American micro-corruption is rare, we seem to suffer from appalling levels of macro-corruption, situations in which our various ruling elites squander or misappropriate tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars of our national wealth, sometimes doing so just barely on one side of technical legality and sometimes on the other.

Sweden is among the cleanest societies in Europe, while Sicily is perhaps the most corrupt. But suppose a large clan of ruthless Sicilian Mafiosi moved to Sweden and somehow managed to gain control of its government. On a day-to-day basis, little would change, with Swedish traffic policemen and building inspectors performing their duties with the same sort of incorruptible efficiency as before, and I suspect that Sweden’s Transparency International rankings would scarcely decline. But meanwhile, a large fraction of Sweden’s accumulated national wealth might gradually be stolen and transferred to secret Cayman Islands bank accounts, or invested in Latin American drug cartels, and eventually the entire plundered economy would collapse.

Ordinary Americans who work hard and seek to earn an honest living for themselves and their families appear to be suffering the ill effects of exactly this same sort of elite-driven economic pillage. The roots of our national decline will be found at the very top of our society, among the One Percent, or more likely the 0.1 percent.

 

Thus, the ideas presented in Why Nations Fail seem both true and false. The claim that harmful political institutions and corrupt elites can inflict huge economic damage upon a society seems absolutely correct. But while the authors turn a harsh eye toward elite misbehavior across time and space—from ancient Rome to Czarist Russia to rising China—their vision seems to turn rosy-tinted when they consider present-day America, the society in which they themselves live and whose ruling elites lavishly fund the academic institutions with which they are affiliated. Given the American realities of the last dozen years, it is quite remarkable that the scholars who wrote a book entitled Why Nations Fail never glanced outside their own office windows.

A similar dangerous reticence may afflict most of our media, which appears much more eager to focus on self-inflicted disasters in foreign countries than on those here at home. Presented below is a companion case-study, “Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison [4],” in which I point out that while the American media a few years ago joined its Chinese counterparts in devoting enormous coverage to the deaths of a few Chinese children from tainted infant formula, it paid relatively little attention to a somewhat similar domestic public-health disaster that killed many tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans.

A society’s media and academic organs constitute the sensory apparatus and central nervous system of its body politic, and if the information these provide is seriously misleading, looming dangers may fester and grow. A media and academy that are highly corrupt or dishonest constitute a deadly national peril. And although the political leadership of undemocratic China might dearly wish to hide all its major mistakes, its crude propaganda machinery often fails at this self-destructive task. But America’s own societal information system is vastly more skilled and experienced in shaping reality to meet the needs of business and government leaders, and this very success does tremendous damage to our country.

Perhaps Americans really do prefer that their broadcasters provide Happy News and that their political campaigns constitute amusing reality shows. Certainly the cheering coliseum crowds of the Roman Empire favored their bread and circuses over the difficult and dangerous tasks that their ancestors had undertaken during Rome’s rise to world greatness. And so long as we can continue to trade bits of printed paper carrying presidential portraits for flat-screen TVs from Chinese factories, perhaps all is well and no one need be too concerned about the apparent course of our national trajectory, least of all our political leadership class.

But if so, then we must admit that Richard Lynn, a prominent British scholar, has been correct in predicting for a decade or longer that the global dominance of the European-derived peoples is rapidly drawing to its end and within the foreseeable future the torch of human progress and world leadership will inevitably pass into Chinese hands.

Ron Unz is publisher of The American Conservative and founder of Unz.org [5].

Shanghai image: Cuiphoto [6]/Shutterstock

URL to article: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/chinas-rise-americas-fall/

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[3] Image: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/issue/2012/may/01/

[4] Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/chinese-melamine-and-american-vioxx-a-comparison/

[5] Unz.org: http://unz.org

[6] Cuiphoto: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-76368775/stock-photo-shanghai-skyline-at-sunrise.html

Posted in foreign entanglements, General.

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Panetta’s Terrorism Error

Excluding the National Actors 

Panetta’s Terrorism Error

by CHRISTIAN SORENSEN

 

…One need not dwell on Israel’s affinity for terrorism, although a few examples, among many, are elucidating. Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth Prime Minister, was intricately involved in the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946. Over 90 individuals of various nationalities perished in this terrorist act.

In 1967, Israeli aircraft attacked the USS Liberty in a false-flag operation, designed to draw America into fighting in the Six-Day War against Egypt. Over thirty Americans died in this act of terrorism, with over 150 wounded.

In 1996, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations compound in Qana, Lebanon, killing over 100 civilians and injuring 100 more. During the winter of 2008-2009, the Israeli military killed hundreds of civilians in Gaza. Today, the Mossad assassinates Iranian scientists. This list doesn’t even include Israel’s history of ethnic cleansing, abuse, and murder of Palestinians. Terrorism knows no other definition….

Continued…

Posted in foreign entanglements, General, Neoconservatism.


The National Interest: “Intervention in Libya and Syria Isn’t Humanitarian or Liberal”

IMO, It’s to fight Israel’s enemies, a part of the present insane neoconservative agenda -jd

 
Benjamin H. Friedman     April 5, 2012
 
       Proponents of foreign military intervention in Libya argued that giving air support to rebels there would spread liberalism and save Libyan lives. But the success of that revolution has thus far delivered political chaos destructive to both ends. That result is worth noting as backers of the Libya intervention offer it as a model for aiding Syrian rebels in the name of similar goals.

Advocates of both interventions underestimate coercion’s contribution to political order. Autocratic rule in these countries is partially a consequence of state weakness—the absence of strong liberal norms, government institutions and nationalism. By helping remove the levers of coercion in places like Libya and Syria, we risk producing anarchy—continual civil war or long-lived violent disorder. Either outcome would likely worsen suffering through widespread murder, a collapse of sanitation and health services, and the stunting of economic growth conducive to well-being. And the most promising paths to new of forms of unity and order in these states are illiberal: religious rule, war or new autocrats. The humanitarian and liberal cases for these interventions are unconvincing.

Aside from Qaddafi’s fall, U.S. leaders gave three primary rationales for military intervention Libya (I repeatedly criticized them last spring). One was to show other dictators that the international community would not tolerate the violent suppression of dissenters. That reverse domino theory has obviously failed. If Qaddafi’s fate taught neighboring leaders like Bashar al-Assad anything, it is to brutally nip opposition movements in the bud before they coalesce, attract foreign arms and air support, and kill you—or, if you’re lucky, ship you off to the Hague.

The second rationale was the establishment of liberal democracy. But Libya, like Syria, lacks the traditional building blocks of liberal democracy. And history suggests that foreign military intervention impedes democratization. Whether or not it manages to hold elections, Libya seems unlikely to become a truly liberal state any time soon. As with Syria, any path to that outcome is likely to be long and bloody.

Meanwhile, Libya’s revolution has destabilized Mali. Qaddafi’s fall pushed hundreds of Tuareg tribesmen that fought on his side back to their native Mali, where they promptly reignited an old insurgency. Malian military officers, citing their government’s insufficient vigor against the rebels, mounted a coup, overthrowing democracy that had lasted over twenty years. Thus far, the military intervention in Libya has reduced the number of democracies by one.

The most widely cited rationale for helping Libya’s rebels was to save civilians from the regime. Along with many commentators, President Obama and his aides insisted that Qaddafi promised to slaughter civilians in towns that his forces were poised to retake last March. Thus, intervention saved hundreds of thousands of lives. A minor problem with this claim is that Qaddafi’s speeches actually threatened rebel fighters, not civilians, and he explicitly exempted those rebels that put down arms. More importantly, if Qaddafi intended to massacre civilians, his forces had ample opportunity to do it. They did commit war crimes, using force indiscriminately and executing and torturing prisoners. But the sort of wholesale slaughter that the Obama administration warned of did not occur—maybe because the regime’s forces lacked the organization needed for systematic slaughter.

The limited nature of the regime’s brutality does not itself invalidate humanitarian concerns. It might be worthwhile to stop even a historically mild suppression of rebellion if the cost of doing so is low enough. The trouble with the humanitarian argument for intervention in Libya is instead that the intervention and the chaos it produced may ultimately cause more suffering than the atrocities it prevented. Libya’s rebel leaders have thus far failed to resurrect central authority. Hundreds of militias police cities and occasionally battle. There are many credible reports that militias have unlawfully detained thousands of regime supporters, executed others, driven mistrusted communities from their homes and engaged in widespread torture.

The looting of Libya’s weapons stockpiles is also likely to contribute to Libya’s misery, in part by arming the militias that obstruct central authority. The weapons depots reportedly included thousands of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), some of which may still work. It is worth noting that the widely reported claim that Libya lost twenty thousand MANPADS appears exaggerated. That figure comes from Senate testimony last spring by the head of Africa Command, who did not substantiate it (my two requests to Africa’s Command PR people for information on this claim were ignored). A State Department official recently gave the same figure before essentially admitting that we have no idea what the right figure is.

No one can say with certainty whether Libya’s anarchy will produce more suffering than a Qaddafi victory would have. But that argument is plausible. Autocracies tend to serve human well-being better than chaos. That does not make it inherently immoral to help overthrow despots. It simply suggests that such interventions, whether or not they are moral or wise, do not deserve the adjective “humanitarian.”

The same goes for Syria. One need not support its brutal rulers to agree that their fall, like Qaddafi’s, is likely to produce extended illiberal chaos or another set of autocrats. I don’t know what the right U.S. policy is toward the crisis in Syria. But I doubt any policy exists that can avoid sacrificing one of our hopes for another.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/intervention-libya-syria-isn%E2%80%99t-humanitarian-or-liberal-6739?page=show

Posted in Constitutional, foreign entanglements, General, Intervention, Military, Neoconservatism.

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Israel Apologists Always Working To Hide Truth About High Seas Massacre

 “We’re getting older,” Tourney stressed, “and the government is just waiting for us to die off.”

 

Israel Apologists Always Working To Hide Truth About High Seas Massacre

March 31,2012,  Victor Thorn, AFP

 

USS Liberty turning while under attack by Israel in international waters . Attacked without warning.

Created over a century ago and boasting more than 140,000 members, the prestigious U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) describes itself as a non-profit professional military association, “with no government support, that does not lobby for special interests.” Located on the grounds of the Naval Academy just outside of Annapolis, Md., the organization has been in operation since 1873 when it was first established by a group of naval officers who sought to further a legacy of “the knowledge of sea power, and to preserve our naval and maritime heritage.”

In its mission statement, the organization’s goals are “to provide an independent forum to those who dare read, think, speak and write in order to advance the professional, literary and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense.”

On the surface, such sentiments sound noble. But recently when the USNI was approached by Bart Van Ness, a lifetime member of AFP’s  READERSHIP COUNCIL, to review the book What I Saw That Day: Israel’s June 8 1967 Holocaust of U.S. Servicemen Aboard the USS Liberty and Its Aftermath, the organization’s true allegiances were revealed.

What I Saw That Day by Phil Tourney is the provocative, no-holds-barred book that tells the truth about Israel’s bloody attack on the USS Liberty.

Once one begins examining USNI’s board of directors, an unsettling picture emerges. For instance, the honorary chairman of the board is none other than John Lehman, an infamous Project for the New American Century (PNAC) signatory and member of the trumped-up 9-11 Commission.

Lehman cut his teeth during the Nixon administration as a National Security Council senior staff aide to none other than Henry Kissinger. He also formed ties with another shady operator—Richard Perle—during his stint in the Navy. Lehman has also owned a company named Abington Corporation, and his partner was the so-called “Prince of Darkness” himself, Perle.

Dr. Michael Saba, an international relations consultant, wrote of this partnership in the Arab News on June 26, 2004. “In 1983, a mysterious package of materials in an unmarked envelope was allegedly delivered to New York Times investigative reporter Jeff Garth. The materials led to a major Times story about then-U.S. Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. The materials pointed out that Lehman had supposedly taken payments from an Israeli arms company while he was secretary of the Navy.”

Saba continued, “Perle, who was also a U.S. government official during this period in 1983, had also allegedly received money from the same Israeli arms company.”

British journalist Claudia Wright reiterated these charges. “Well known in Israeli military circles, [Lehman] sat on the board of a Philadelphia think tank run by American supporters of Israel, and operated a highly profitable defense consulting company with business ties to the Israeli arms industry,” wrote Mrs. Wright. 

Lehman’s ties to Israel become even more sinister when we consider the infamous case of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian analyst who betrayed our country by stealing secrets and passing them along to our supposed ally. In his article, “9-11 and the Neo-Cons,” independent journalist Tom Wilson wrote: “When Pollard’s espionage was exposed, the following individuals were suspected by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger’s office of being Pollard’s co-conspirators: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and John Lehman.”

None of these revelations should surprise anyone because Lehman and his neocon colleagues have had a long history of traitorous behavior against the U.S. in favor of Israel. They have also been doing the Zionists’ dirty work for decades by pushing a pro-military agenda in the Middle East that advances war against Israel’s enemies.

Lehman has been in the thick of this since the early 1970s, yet somehow he was considered “independent” enough to be on the 9-11 Commission.

In the early 1990s Lehman joined the Committee on U.S. Interests in the Middle East. This organization’s purpose was to lobby for U.S. tax dollars for the nation of Israel. Its organizers were notorious pro-Israeli U.S. officials Perle, Douglas Feith and Elliott Abrams.

Lehman was also deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, where he was closely associated with Paul Wolfowitz and Perle. He was also a member of PNAC, which has been described as the most influential warmongering group since the Committee on the Present Danger, another Lehman group.

PNAC, of course, achieved infamy by producing two particularly notorious letters: One was sent to President Bill Clinton, while the other went to President George W. Bush, 11 days after the 9-11 terror attacks. In each of these letters, the signatories—including Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Abrams, Donald Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz—urged the then-presidents to engage in one specific act—an acceleration of America’s plans to invade Iraq.

As we all know by now, the Bush neocon administration immediately embarked on these plans only hours after the 9-11 attacks.

Author of Book on 1967 Attack Fights Top-Level Censorship

By Victor Thorn

Despite receiving a cold shoulder from the Navy, State Department and Congress in regard to conducting an authentic investigation of Israel’s murderous 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, survivor Phil Tourney acknowledged a longtime ally. 

“Ever since Willis Carto paid my way to speak at a conference in Washington sometime around 23 or 24 years ago, we’ve been friends,” said Tourney. “AFP and The Spotlight have been some of the only people to ever help us. They’ve always been—bar none—our strongest supporters.”

During a March 21 interview with this writer, Tourney described how he’s been brushed off for the past 30 years. Once, at a 2003 State Department conference that had cover-up artist Jay Cristol and three other Jewish individuals on its panel—as well as author James Bamford—Tourney rose to address the speakers during a question-and-answer session. But instead of hearing him out, the organizers cut off Tourney’s microphone. When other attendees objected, demanding, “Let him speak,” the conference abruptly ended.

“It was one of the biggest disappointments of my life,” Tourney confided. Fortunately, there did exist a silver lining, as Phil explained. “10 minutes before the conference began, Bamford received a faxed letter from Capt. Ward Boston, who said the naval investigation was a sham. In essence, Boston insisted that our crewmen were left out there to die in order to protect Israel.” 

The 45-year news blackout extends all the way to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). 

Tourney told AFP, “His father, John McCain Sr., demanded that Boston could not speak to any of the IDF pilots or torpedo captains.”

At this same conference, Tourney told of how the State Department’s Marc Susser repeatedly pushed the Board of Inquiry’s “mistaken identity” angle by claiming that Israel thought Liberty was actually an out-of-service Egyptian horse carrier, the El Quseir

Of course, legitimate researchers have debunked this smokescreen long ago. Or, as Boston wrote in his October 2003 affidavit: “The evidence was clear. Both Adm. Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate attack to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.”

Despite the obstacles facing him, Tourney still refuses to quit. “I wrote to Colin Powell, but never heard back from him. This government right now is beholden to Israel, more than it’s ever been. The ADL and AIPAC are very demanding. They put a lot of pressure on Congress. Everyone is afraid to push back. At a USS Liberty Memorial Library ceremony, the Navy wouldn’t even send a color guard. A SWAT team had to protect the Liberty crewmen because they thought someone would kill them.”

Sadly, time is running out for these brave men.

“We’re getting older,” Tourney stressed, “and the government is just waiting for us to die off.”

The Man That Officially Codified the Lies

A fraud, a typical disloyal ‘Israel First’ American, USS Liberty apologist and liar.

Following the 2003 release of his scurrilously deceptive book, The Liberty Incident, the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) added insult to injury by seeming to solely promote Jay Cristol’s version of events to the exclusion of all others. In the June 2003 issue of USNI’s official magazine, Proceedings, David C. Walsh endorsed many of Cristol’s dubious claims, such as the “mistaken identity” theory and how Israel’s attack—which he claims only lasted for 22 minutes—resulted from a mere “communications gaffe.”

Cristol—formerly a federal judge and a Naval Reserve captain—cleared Israel of any intent. Rather, Cristol asserted, due to the “fog of war,” both sides—Israel and the U.S.—must share blame for the incident.

In the aforementioned June 2003 article entitled “Friendless Fire,” Walsh wrote, “The author [Cristol] surmises that most survivors—some of whom openly criticize Israel’s domestic policies and its formidable Washington lobby—have a political ax to grind.”

Piling on even more venom, Walsh says of Cristol, “The judge is dubious of naysayers [who] rely on ‘conjecture, hearsay and plain wishful thinking,’ flawed or traumatized memories, and ‘various conspiracy theories.’”

Even former Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “There was every reason to believe that the USS Liberty was identified, or at least her nationality determined, one hour before the attack.” 

Cristol, USNI and Proceedings should be ashamed of themselves for continuing this cover-up, and the blood of every murdered, wounded or disfigured Liberty crewmember will forever be on their hands until they correct this miscarriage of justice—and that is the truth.

Cover-Up a Slap in the Face of All U.S. Vets

By Victor Thorn 

An 80-year-old Maryland resident and lifetime AFP READERSHIP COUNCIL member, Bart Van Ness is an American patriot who still believes everyday citizens can make a difference. He also feels that all of us as individuals should stand up for what we believe is right, especially if an egregious crime has been committed against our fellow countrymen.

During a March 21 interview with AFP, Van Ness told this writer, “As long as I can physically do it, I’m going to keep fighting for America.”

As a 52-year Golden Life member of the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), Van Ness has recently taken a courageous stance to expose the truth about what happened on June 8, 1967, when Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats assaulted the USS Liberty for nearly two hours, killing 34 and injuring 172. His efforts reveal that even when confronted with seemingly insurmountable odds, nothing can defeat persistence.

Van Ness described how, over the years, he had read possibly every book and watched every documentary produced on the Liberty attack. But after the Naval Institute published an article by arch-disinformation agent Jay Cristol in 2005, Bart wrote a letter to the editor asking USNI to consider covering Tito Howard’s film Attack on the Liberty. He never heard back from them.

Fast-forward to 2011, where Van Ness picks up the story.

“After I read Liberty survivor Phil Tourney’s book, What I Saw That Day, I sent a book review on July 13 to Proceedings, which is USNI’s official magazine,” said Van Ness.

Due to some purported miscommunication, Van Ness re-sent the review in September 2011, whereupon he spoke with Adm. Peter Daley, who is USNI’s CEO and a member of its board of directors.

At first, prospects seemed positive. Van Ness recalled: “Daley told me: ‘Let us answer John Adams’s call. Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people. Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.’”

Encouraged, on Jan. 11 Van Ness wrote a letter to Daley in regard to the Tourney book review.

“I feel very strongly that this should be published so people will not only be made aware of what happened [to the USS Liberty], but in memory of the 34 crew members killed and 172 wounded that day,” Van Ness said.

Two weeks later, on Jan. 24, editor Liese Dougherty responded, informing Van Ness that USNI had chosen not to use his review.

Taking time to cool off and approach this matter with a level head, on Feb. 14 Van Ness sent a letter to Daley informing him that he was giving up his 52-year Golden Life membership.

Van Ness told AFP: “The reason I resigned was because I lost respect for the Naval Institute. They don’t have any guts. Their cover-up is a slap in the face of every Liberty crewmember.”

When learning of USNI’s decision, author Tourney told Van Ness, “They not only insulted the Liberty, they insulted you, too.” 

Still upset about the Naval Institute betraying their brethren, Van Ness said with conviction: “What they’re saying to me in so many words is, to hell with you. This stance reflects the arrogance, intellectual dishonesty, lack of integrity and hypocrisy of this organization. Why don’t they look at the facts?”

Refusing to surrender, Van Ness is now taking his campaign to the media, specifically AFP 

“I’d like every reader to contact CEO Peter Daley at the USNI’s address below and express their displeasure over their decision not to run a review of Phil Tourney’s book,” said Van Ness.

AFP fully stands behind Van Ness and his efforts to expose the protection racket that our government is running for Israeli murderers that deliberately attacked a U.S. Navy ship floating in international waters. Together, maybe all our voices can be heard.

Daley can be contacted at U.S. Naval Institute, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Md. 21402.

 

——

 

Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of over 30 books.

 

BOOK REVIEW

 

What I Saw That Day

 

• Gripping book recommended reading for all patriots

By Bartow Van Ness III

Phil Tourney’s book

What I Saw That Day details the experience of crewman Phil Tourney, while on the USS Liberty (GTR-5), during the attack by Israeli forces on June 8, 1967, resulting in the deaths of 34 American servicemen and 170 wounded. It is a story of extreme heroism on the part of the ship’s company, resulting in the Liberty incident being brought to the attention of the American people.

 

From a first-hand account the author brings forth the viciousness of the attack on a ship that had a large American flag displayed, the carnage inflicted on her crew and the tremendous damage done, which included over 820 bullet and shrapnel holes and areas burned by napalm and a torpedo hole the size of a house.

The book is quite disturbing because of not only the attack by our supposed ally, but also that it exposes the fact that our own government has tried to keep the truth from the American people for 45 years.

Tourney pulls no punches when he describes how the crew was treated by Adm. Isaac Kidd, with threats of court-martial and imprisonment “or worse” if they told anyone what they saw.

The surviving crewmembers were later broken up and dispersed to other ships and told not to discuss the incident with anyone, including their own families. Many never said anything for at least 20 years, for fear of reprisal. As time went on, crewmembers started to come forth and talk.

High-ups in the U.S. government, including President Lyndon Johnson, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and admirals John S. McCain and Kidd, were energetically involved in trying to keep the truth from being told. 

In October 2003, Capt.Ward Boston, outraged at the cover-up, came forth and issued a legal affidavit that he had been ordered by Johnson to conclude that the attack on Liberty was a case of mistaken identity and that he was given one week to gather information when he estimated that a proper court of inquiry for an official Navy investigation would take at least six months to complete, due to the magnitude of the attack. 

Tourney was given a free trip to Naples and Rome, all expenses paid by the Navy, while the investigation was being conducted when Liberty was in dry-dock in Malta being repaired. This was done because he was one of the key witnesses to the attack, and he was wanted out of the way.

A group of Liberty survivors were invited by President George H.W. Bush to visit with him concerning Liberty and were kept waiting for two hours by him, and then told he was too busy. Many of the group of 50 had traveled long distances for the event. The captain of Liberty was almost at the point of tears. Tourney describes this in no uncertain terms as being “bushwhacked.”

Many prominent figures have questioned the findings of the court of inquiry concerning Liberty and have been staunch supporters of the crew. They include former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Thomas Moorer, Adm. Merling Staring, former Congressional Reps. Pete McCloskey, John Hostettler and Cynthia McKinney, CIA officer Philip Giraldi, Ambassador Richard Peck, Israeli dissident Mordecai Vanunu, former Under Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, former director of the Army War College Alan Sabrosky and many others.

Tourney very succinctly states that by the crew saving Liberty, WWIII was prevented, because Egypt would have been blamed for the attack. He also states the attack on Liberty was a forerunner to Sept. 11, 2001.

——
Bart Van Ness is a lifetime AFP READERSHIP COUNCIL member, a naval history buff, and an avid fisherman and hunter.

 

————

 

This is by far the best book ever produced on the 1967 massacre . . .

 

When U.S. Navy sailor Phil Tourney saw Israeli planes circling the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, he and his crewmates thought nothing of it. The Israelis waved at the crew and the Liberty crew, waved back. The USS Liberty was a unique vessel, unlike any other in the world, with a large tower and radar dishes used for eavesdropping, so the chance it could be mistaken for an “enemy” vessel were zero. The huge U.S. flag and the large ID numbers painted on the ship also made identification of the ship possible from miles away. Imagine the shock and horror when the Israelis attacked the lightly armed intelligence gathering vessel in broad daylight. A torpedo was fired and struck Liberty dead on. Israeli aircraft strafed the men aboard and dropped napalm on the decks. Torpedo boats machine-gunned the crew as they tried to rescue wounded U.S. servicemen. They even shot up life rafts to prevent any escape. The attack lasted for hours. And Phil Tourney witnessed every second of it.

Here is his story. A complete description of the attack, everything he saw that day, and details of the ensuing threats from U.S. military officers and government officials to shut up or face the consequences. Phil and co-author Mark Glenn also recount the brave men who have tried to break the wall of censorship that has surrounded this event. It also details the personal toll inflicted upon Phil and the crew—the years of harassment from Israeli agents and high-level U.S. government lackeys and the trauma of the events. Readers of this book have called it the best book ever written on the USS Liberty attack. And if you’ve read books or seen films about it in the past, these readers say this book picks up where those left off, revealing intimate details of the event that none other has dared touch. Many have been brought to tears by Phil’s story. But he seeks no profit, no glory, no accolades. This book was written and dedicated to those men who were killed and wounded that June day in 1967—and to the myriad lives that were changed by one of the most treacherous acts in modern history.

Read the book and judge for yourself. If you do not agree it is the best book ever written on the attack on the Liberty, we will refund your money. WHAT I SAW THAT DAY (softcover, 282 pages, #WIS, $30 plus $6 S&H inside the U.S.) from AMERICAN FREE PRESS, 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, #100, Washington, D.C. 20003. Call AFP toll free at 1-888-699-NEWS to charge a copy. FREE USS LIBERTY REPORT WITH EVERY ORDER. For bulk distribution opportunities or more than one copy call 202-547-5585.

Books, DVDs and a Report on the USS Liberty 

The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship

James Scott is the son of a surviving Liberty officer. Here he recounts the story of the horrifying attack and the impact it had on the lives of the crew. He shows how political considerations trumped demands for justice from the survivors, the military and Congress. Drawing on interviews and declassified documents, he demonstrates that Israel’s claim that the attack was a mistake is a lie. Hardcover, 374 pages, $30.

Ship Without a Country: Eyewitness Accounts of the Attack on the USS Liberty

Edited by Victor Thorn and Mark Glenn. The reason for the silence surrounding the Liberty attack is simple. It didn’t go off as planned; the ship was not sunk. More importantly, the nation responsible for this attack was the most sacred of all cows—Israel. In this book you’ll find facts that have been kept hidden for nearly half a century. You’ll hear directly from the survivors of the attack as well as high-ranking U.S. Navy and government officials who were witness to the massacre and the cover-up. Softcover, 76 pages, $15.

DVD—Loss of Liberty: Attack on the USS Liberty

This important documentary about the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty by Israel is an excellent film. The video documents the courage, drama and tragedy of that treacherous attack. The crew was forced into silence after the event by the U.S. government, and many of the crewmembers have never been fully recognized for their valor. This film will touch the heart of every patriotic American and is an absolute must buy. DVD, 100 minutes, $30.

DVD—USS Liberty Dead in the Water

During the Six Day War, Israel attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty. Thirty-four American servicemen were killed in the two-hour assault by Israeli naval and air forces. Israel claimed it was all a tragic accident. For more than 40 years many people have scoffed at the official explanation but have been unable to rebut it. Now, Dead in the Water uses startling new evidence to reveal the truth behind the seemingly inexplicable attack. Interviews include President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. DVD, 60 minutes, $25.

AFP ReportRemember the USS Liberty

AFP correspondent Mark Glenn and filmmaker Tito Howard have helped expand this report to 12 pages with interviews of USS Liberty survivors and others who were witnesses to the treachery of Israel—and the U.S. government—in regard to the brutal June 8, 1967 attack on the lightly- armed but highly sophisticated U.S. intelligence gathering vessel operating in international waters. Officials in D.C. have been covering up the massacre ever since. Get the word out. Receive bulk copies of AFP’s Remember the USS Liberty report to hand out. COST: 1-5 copies are $4 each. 6-39 are $1.85 each. Forty to 499 copies are 60¢ each. 500+ are 55¢ each.

——
ALL FIVE OF THE ITEMS ABOVE for $100. Order from AFP 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE #100 Washington, D.C. 20003. Call toll free 1-888-699-6397 to charge. S&H not included in above prices: Add $4 S&H on orders up to $25; add $6 S&H from $25.01 to $50. Add $8 S&H from $50.01 to $75. Add $10 on orders over $75. Outside U.S. email shop@americanfreepress.net for S&H. Bulk distribution opportunities available: Call 202-547-5585.

http://americanfreepress.net/?p=3518

Posted in foreign entanglements, General, Neoconservatism.

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America Must Not Buy Into Israel’s Warmongering

by David Dietz, March 27, 2012

War With Iran a Mistake: America Must Not Buy Into Israel's Warmongering
 
America Must Not Buy Into Israel’s Warmongering
 
Iran will eventually get nuclear weapons. Just like they’ll likely eventually get Barbies and urinals, as well. The natural progressions of modernity often make such sinister advances often inevitable, but that doesn’t mean they will happen overnight. Nor is it a justification for war. 

The Israeli military, half of the U.S. Congress, and the conservative punditocracy in the media would make you believe that Iran is days away from developing a bomb and only a few weeks at that from destroying Israel. Last year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the world should start worrying, and that’s what is happening in Iran.” Such a foreboding threat remains very real and scary but also sounds somewhat familiar.

If so, it was because that wasn’t the first time Netanyahu had made such claims. Netanyahu had also declared that Iran was 3 to 5 years away from possessing nuclear weapons and that such a threat had to be ”uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S.” Unlike his earlier premonition above, he wasn’t using such a warning to pressure Obama to go to war; rather it was Bill Clinton he was speaking to, way back in 1992. 

The Israeli PM continually requests that we take the Iranian regime’s threats against Israel seriously, and we have, through the toughest international sanctions on Iran the West has ever imposed. If we are to take such bombastic threats by Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on face value and use them as the basis for embargoes against the Islamic Republic, it seems only fair that we take Netayanu’s own remarks seriously as well. Yet if we were to look back through his statements on Iran, we would be troubled to find a history of politically motivated war mongering fabrications spanning more than two decades.

We can only surmise that such exaggerated comments are made to stoke fear in both Israeli and American hearts in hopes of drawing both countries into a war against Iran. What else could explain why the departing head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency and presumed foremost authority on Iran’s nuclear capabilities would flatly contradict Netayahu’s findings saying Iran didn’t have the capacity to produce a bomb until 2015 at the earliest.

This is not to say that the threat of Iran should not be dealt with. A vast majority of Americans agree that an Iranian regime with nuclear weapons is a danger to Israel and the West and that Iran’s nuclear program should decease. But remember the last time we went to war to stop a Middle Eastern tyrant whose comprehensive stock pile of weapons of mass destruction posed a grave threat to Israel and the West?

Talk of airstrikes and war, particularly at this time when the region is at its most vulnerable state in decades, is reckless. Whether or not Iran has curtailed its nuclear ambitions, as was reported in 2007, or already has the crude capabilities to produce a bomb, as was stated early last year, one thing is for certain: in the history of an unstable region, the Middle East has never been so volatile. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen are all struggling with transitions to power. Bahrain is suffering through political turmoil, Syria is engulfed in an — all but in name — civil war and Iraq’s democracy is tenuous at best. 

Even Iran’s theocratic leadership has been challenged in recent years by undercurrents of unrest. And while the majority of the anger is directed towards authoritarian regimes, anti-American and especially anti-Israeli sentiment remains very powerful. Should Israel and America launch another pre-emptive attack on another Muslim nation, there will be no uncertainty as to the response of the Arab world — Israel and America will feel the wrath of the entire region.

Any strike could lead to a violent backlash against Israel and the West that throws the region into further chaos. Shias in Iraq and Bahrain, the Syrian government, Hezbollah and Hamas might declare war on Israel launching thousands of rockets against its people. Egypt and Turkey may cancel long-standing peace treaties with Israel and retaliate against the United States by terminating military or economic ties. And of course Iran too will violently respond as well. 

Iran will eventually get nuclear weapons. We’ve known that since 1984 when Senator Alan Cranston first took to the House floor claiming that Iran was seven years away from acquiring them. That doesn’t mean we should cave to conservative warmongering, especially now. Too much is at stake. 

http://www.policymic.com/articles/5286/war-with-iran-a-mistake-america-must-not-buy-into-israel-s-warmongering

Posted in Constitutional, foreign entanglements, General, Intervention, Military, Neoconservatism.

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America Afghanistan and American imperialism

It’s time to get out of Southwest Asia…now. -jd

 

March 21, 2012

By Glenn Greenwald

“What is most revealed by the decision to remove Bales from Afghanistan is the American belief that no other country–including those its invades and occupies–can ever impose accountability on Americans. It is apparently what caused the US to quickly remove the accused shooter from Afghanistan.”

::::::::

This article cross-posted from The Guardian Staff sergeant Robert Bales, left Staff sergeant Robert Bales, left, is accused of shooting dead 16 Afghan villagers, including nine children. Photograph: Ryan Hallock/AFP/Getty Images

US army staff sergeant Robert Bales is accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan villagers, including nine children, and then burning some of the bodies. The massacre took place in two villages in the southern rural district of Panjwai. Though this horrific crime targeted Afghans on Afghan soil, Afghanistan will play no role in investigating the crime or bringing the perpetrator (or perpetrators) to justice. That is because the US almost immediately whisked the accused out of Afghanistan and brought him to an American Army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The rapid exclusion of Afghans from the process of trying the accused shooter has, predictably and understandably, exacerbated the growing anti-American anger in that country. It is hard to imagine any nation on the planet reacting any other way to being denied the ability to try suspects over crimes that take place on its soil. A Taliban commander quickly gave voice to that nationalistic fury, announcing: “We want this soldier to be prosecuted in Afghanistan. The Afghans should prosecute him.”

Demands that the atrocity be investigated by Afghans are grounded in part by reports that Bales did not act alone. While US military officials decreed from the start that Bales was the lone culprit, eyewitnesses in the villages reported the presence of multiple attackers. Many Afghans simply cannot fathom how such a large-scale attack could have been perpetrated by a single shooter. Bacha Agha of the Balandi village told the Associated Press: “One man can’t kill so many people. There must have been many people involved.” He added: “If the government says this is just one person’s act we will not accept it.” President Hamid Karzai initially added fuel to those suspicions, notably accusing “American forces” of the attacks.

The suspicion that other American soldiers may have been involved, though unproven, is far from irrational. The notorious American “kill team” that deliberately executed random, innocent Afghan civilians (often teenagers) for sport, planted weapons on their bodies, and then posed with their corpses as trophies operated out a base in the same area. America’s former top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, admitted: “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”

That US-Afghan tensions are at an all-time high due to recent events makes suspicions of a coordinated attack even more substantive. As Robert Fisk recalled, the US army’s top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, went out of his way just a couple weeks ago to tell his soldiers that “now is not the time for revenge for the deaths of two US soldiers killed in Thursday’s riots” resulting from the burning of Qu’rans, and he urged his soldiers to “resist whatever urge they might have to strike back.” Clearly, General Allen was concerned about coordinated military revenge attacks on Afghan civilians.

Afghan doubts about an exclusively American investigation are surely inflamed, again understandably, by the history of untruths by the US military about episodes of violence in Afghanistan. As the war correspondent Jerome Starkey documented: “US-led forces in Afghanistan are committing atrocities, lying, and getting away with it.”

Starkey was writing in the wake of one incident where the American military, thanks to his investigative reporting, got caught out over the wanton killing of Afghan villagers. In February, 2010, US forces entered a village in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan and, after surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, shot dead two male civilians (government officials) who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives (a pregnant mother of 10, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager).

The Pentagon then issued statements insisting that the dead men were insurgents and that the dead women were already gagged and killed inside the house by the time US forces had arrived, victims of an “honor killing.” They depicted as liars the Afghan villagers who insisted that it was US soldiers who did the killing and that the dead were all civilians. American media outlets largely regurgitated the American military version uncritically. But enough evidence subsequently emerged disproving those claims such that the Pentagon was forced to admit that their original version was totally false and that, just as the villagers attested, it was US troops who killed the women.

As Starkey wrote: “This is perhaps the most harrowing instance” but “it’s not the first time I’ve found Nato lying.” Is it any wonder that Afghans do not trust the US government to conduct its own investigation and hold accountable those responsible?

What is most revealed by the decision to remove Bales from Afghanistan is the American belief that no other country — including those its invades and occupies — can ever impose accountability on Americans. This was seen most recently, and vividly, in Iraq.

President Obama’s most swooning supporters love to credit him with “ending the war in Iraq,” but that is simply not what happened. It was President Bush who entered into an agreement with the Iraqi government mandating the removal of all US forces by the end of 2011. Rather than comply with that agreement, the Obama administration tried desperately to persuade and pressure the Iraqis to allow American troops to remain beyond that deadline. But those efforts failed because of one cause: the refusal (or, more accurately, the inability) of the Malaki government to agree that US troops would be immunized and shielded from Iraqi law for any future crimes they commit on Iraqi soil.

One prime prerogative of all empires is that it is subject to no laws or accountability other than its own, even when it comes to crimes committed on other nations’ soil and against its people. That was the imperial principle that finally compelled America’s withdrawal from Iraq, and it is apparently what caused the US to quickly remove the accused shooter from Afghanistan. It may be understandable why the US perceives it in its interest to preserve this imperial power, but it should be equally understandable why its victims react with increasing levels of suspicion, resentment and rage.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/America-Afghanistan-and-A-by-Glenn-Greenwald-120321-901.html

Posted in Constitutional, foreign entanglements, Intervention, Legal, Military, Neoconservatism.

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